Tuesday, 30 May 2023 - 3:21pm

Bringing a world of understanding

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Forensic photographer Ian Pearson holding his award.

Ask Senior Constable Ian Pearson about the best job in New Zealand Police and he’ll tell you he has it.

There’s nothing he loves more than working as a forensic photographer in the Bay of Plenty, whether that means attending crime scenes or trawling through footage to ensure it’s being interpreted correctly.

His passion has seen him lead the way for forensic imaging within Police, continually innovating and learning to stay in front of the changing technology.

Now Ian’s passion, the endless hours spend upskilling and his incredible knowledge has been recognised, with Ian receiving Te Ao Mārama – National Forensic Imaging Award.

His skills, particularly in advancing performance in the areas of drone initiatives, 3D modelling and CCTV analysis has seen him become a sought-after expert, especially when it comes to challenging defence witnesses or explaining at times complex video compression in simple language for juries.

While Ian is quick to point out that any achievements have been the result of a team – not him alone – he relishes playing his role in the investigations.

“Every investigation is a team effort, and it is about using the skills of the right people in the right way. It’s a team and you have to do your bit of excellence.”

For Ian, those skills have been honed largely in his own time.

The technology is unrecognisable from when he joined Police in 1997, or even when he moved full time into photography in 2007, but Ian’s interest, particularly in video and the vital role it can play, has seen him lead the way.

He says the same passion that got him into policing is still what drives him. These days, he’s just using technology to help.

Ian says the role as forensic photography goes far wider than simply taking photos.

“It’s all the ways you can use technology to enhance what you have, things like creating contrast to enhance the evidence – the value add. We are doing so much with 3D now, on a busy week we can do two to three 3D models a week.”

While it’s becoming more computed based, he relishes the technical side and the maths for things like lens calculations.

He says he gets huge satisfaction being able to use his video expertise in the courtroom.

As well as being a key asset in the investigation space, Ian’s knowledge has seen him train and mentor photographers from around the country – both at the Royal New Zealand Police College and with weekly phone calls from others seeking advice.

In support of the nomination, Ian’s supervisor Sergeant Stephen McKay says describing the contributions and advancements that Ian has made to police photography is “impossible”.

“There would not be a photography section anywhere in New Zealand that has not been influenced or sought some technical advice from Ian about photography matters, CCTV, Drone or 3D modelling.

“He is the unofficial photography go-to guy based on his experience and knowledge.”